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Contributing to WriteFreely

Welcome! We're glad you're interested in contributing to WriteFreely.

For questions, help, feature requests, and general discussion, please use our forum.

For bug reports, please open a GitHub issue. See our guide on submitting bug reports.

Getting Started

There are many ways to contribute to WriteFreely, from code to documentation, to translations, to help in the community!

See our Contributing Guide on WriteFreely.org for ways to contribute without writing code. Otherwise, please read on.

Working on WriteFreely

First, you'll want to clone the WriteFreely repo, install development dependencies, and build the application from source. Learn how to do this in our Development Setup guide.

Starting development

Next, join our forum so you can discuss development with the team. Then take a look at our roadmap on Phabricator to see where the project is today and where it's headed.

When you find something you want to work on, start a new topic on the forum or jump into an existing discussion, if there is one. The team will respond and continue the conversation there.

Lastly, before submitting any code, please sign our contributor's agreement so we can accept your contributions. It is substantially similar to the Apache Individual Contributor License Agreement. If you'd like to know about the rationale behind this requirement, you can read more about that here.


All stable work lives on the master branch. We merge into it only when creating a release. Releases are tagged using semantic versioning.

While developing, we primarily work from the develop branch, creating feature branches off of it for new features and fixes. When starting a new feature or fix, you should also create a new branch off of develop.

Branch naming

For fixes and modifications to existing behavior, branch names should follow a similar pattern to commit messages (see below), such as fix-post-rendering or update-documentation. You can optionally append a task number, e.g. fix-post-rendering-T000.

For new features, branches can be named after the new feature, e.g. activitypub-mentions or import-zip.

Pull request scope

The scope of work on each branch should be as small as possible -- one complete feature, one complete change, or one complete fix. This makes it easier for us to review and accept.

Writing code

We value reliable, readable, and maintainable code over all else in our work. To help you write that kind of code, we offer a few guiding principles, as well as a few concrete guidelines.

Guiding principles

  • Write code for other humans, not computers.
  • The less complexity, the better. The more someone can understand code just by looking at it, the better.
  • Functionality, readability, and maintainability over senseless elegance.
  • Only abstract when necessary.
  • Keep an eye to the future, but don't pre-optimize at the expense of today's simplicity.

Code guidelines

  • Format all Go code with go fmt before committing (important!)
  • Follow whitespace conventions established within the project (tabs vs. spaces)
  • Add comments to exported Go functions and variables
  • Follow Go naming conventions, like using mixedCaps
  • Avoid new dependencies unless absolutely necessary

Commit messages

We highly value commit messages that follow established form within the project. Generally speaking, we follow the practices outlined in the Pro Git Book. A good commit message will look like the following:

  • Line 1: A short summary written in the present imperative tense. For example:
    • ✔️ Good: "Fix post rendering bug"
    • No: "Fixes post rendering bug"
    • No: "Fixing post rendering bug"
    • No: "Fixed post rendering bug"
    • No: "Post rendering bug is fixed now"
  • Line 2: [left blank]
  • Line 3: An added description of what changed, any rationale, etc. -- if necessary
  • Last line: A mention of any applicable task or issue
    • For Phabricator tasks: Ref T000 or Closes T000
    • For GitHub issues: Ref #000 or Fixes #000

Good examples

When in doubt, look to our existing git history for examples of good commit messages. Here are a few:

Submitting pull requests

Like our GitHub issues, we aim to keep our number of open pull requests to a minimum. You can follow a few guidelines to ensure changes are merged quickly.

First, make sure your changes follow the established practices and good form outlined in this guide. This is crucial to our project, and ignoring our practices can delay otherwise important fixes.

Beyond that, we prioritize pull requests in this order:

  1. Fixes to open GitHub issues
  2. Superficial changes and improvements that don't adversely impact users
  3. New features and changes that have been discussed before with the team

Any pull requests that haven't previously been discussed with the team may be extensively delayed or closed, especially if they require a wider consideration before integrating into the project. When in doubt, please reach out on the forum before submitting a pull request.